Is Xanthan Gum Bad For You: Benefits And Side Effects

Have you ever wondered what goes into your favorite processed foods and whether they’re good for you? One ingredient that often raises eyebrows is xanthan gum.

But what is xanthan gum, and is it safe to consume?   The safety of xanthan gum has become a source of controversy among health and wellness experts.
In this article, we’ll dive into the science behind this controversial ingredient and explore whether or not xanthan gum is bad for you.

So if you’re curious about the potential health risks of xanthan gum, read on to learn more!

What Is Xanthan Gum Derived From?

Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide. It’s a complex carbohydrate made up of multiple sugar molecules.

It is made in a lab using sugars and bacteria to ferment it,

It’s produced through the fermentation of a type of bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris.

The bacteria are grown in a culture with a sugar source, such as corn syrup. It then undergoes a process where they’re purified and dried to create a powder form of XG.

Because it’s derived from bacterial fermentation, XG is considered a natural ingredient.

What Is Xanthan Gum Used For?

Xanthan gum is a popular and versatile ingredient in various food and non-food products.

In the food industry, it’s used as a thickener and stabilizing agent, helping to improve the texture, moisture retention, and shelf life of various processed foods.

Many gluten-free recipes don’t bind well without xanthan gum and produce baked goods that crumble.  Though used in gluten-free baking, xanthan gum powder is not truly gluten free.

It’s used in various products, such as salad dressings, sauces, dairy products, baked goods, and beverages.

Xanthan gum is used in many non-food products like cosmetics, toothpaste, and pharmaceuticals.

In cosmetics, it helps to stabilize emulsions and suspensions and provides a smooth texture.

In toothpaste, it helps to thicken the product and prevent separation of ingredients.

In pharmaceuticals, it can improve the stability of suspensions and increase the viscosity of liquid medications.

Overall, the benefits of xanthan gum are its ability to create stable and consistent formulations in various industries.

Why Do People Take Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum is a common food additive used as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier. Xanthan gum is safe for most people.

Some people also take xanthan gum and guar gum as dietary supplements to help with digestion and promote regular bowel movements.

It has potential health benefits, especially for individuals with certain digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

There is some evidence to suggest that consumption of xanthan gum may have several health benefits, including:

Improved digestion: Help improve digestion by increasing the bulk of the stool and promoting regular bowel movements.

Lower cholesterol levels: Some studies have found that consuming it may help reduce blood cholesterol levels.

Better blood sugar control: Several studies have suggested that xanthan gum can help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes or insulin resistance. Many studies have indicated that larger doses of xanthan gum may bring down blood sugar, especially in those with diabetes.

Reduced inflammation: It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, it may benefit individuals with inflammatory conditions like arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease.

Increased satiety: Because it is a soluble fiber, this gum may help increase feelings of fullness and reduce hunger, aiding in weight management.

Its potential benefits are promising; more research is needed to understand xanthan gum’s health effects.

Is Xanthan Gum Bad For You? 

Is xanthan gum Safe?  It is generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when used in food products in small amounts.

It has been used as a food additive for more than 50 years. No evidence suggests that xanthan gum harms human health when consumed in moderation.

However, some individuals may experience side effects from consuming large doses of xanthan gum, such as:

Digestive issues: XG is a high-fiber food additive, and consuming too much can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea. New research now shows that it affects our gut microbiota (gut bacteria).

Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to XG, and consuming food additives may cause symptoms of food allergies such as itching, hives, and difficulty breathing.

Skin irritation: Xanthan gum may cause skin irritation or rash in some individuals who come into contact with it.

Headaches: In rare cases, consuming xanthan gum may trigger headaches.

May lower blood sugar: Some studies have suggested that the effects of xanthan gum may help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes or insulin resistance. It could cause your blood sugar levels to drop too low, leading to hypoglycemia. Don’t consume it in large amounts if you’re taking medication to lower your blood sugar levels.

Not suitable for premature infants: XG is not recommended for infants with a history of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Studies have indicated that consuming large amounts of xanthan gum per day or other thickeners may increase the risk of NEC in infants.

May interact with certain medications: XG may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and cholesterol-lowering drugs. It’s also not recommended for people who are planning to undergo surgery. If you are concerned about whether xanthan gum in food is safe, speak to your doctor.

Should You Avoid Xanthan Gum?

For most people, consuming xanthan gum in moderation is safe and will not cause any harm.

However, if you have a known allergy to foods containing xanthan gum, you should avoid it. Also, if you experience digestive problems, skin irritation, or other symptoms after consuming it, you may want to avoid it.

If you’re a pregnant or breastfeeding woman, you may need to avoid xanthan gum and other food additives. Food thickeners can also worsen intestinal disorders like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

People taking certain medications like blood thinners, cholesterol-lowering drugs, or diabetes medications do not consume them in excess.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is xanthan gum toxic?

XG is generally considered safe for consumption by humans. It has been approved for use as a food additive by many regulatory agencies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Food have approved the moderate use of xanthan gum. The joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives also has approved it.

What happens if you eat too much xanthan gum?

Consuming large quantities of xanthan gum can potentially cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. If you have consumed too much xanthan gum, it is best to drink plenty of water. Also, consult with a healthcare professional if your symptoms persist.

Is xanthan gum bad for your liver?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that small doses of xanthan gum are bad for the liver. Human studies have shown that xanthan gum is not absorbed in the body. It passes through the digestive system intact. It is not metabolized by the liver or any other organs in the body and is simply excreted in the feces.

Is xanthan gum bad for your skin?

Xanthan gum is also generally considered safe for topical use. However, some individuals may be sensitive to xanthan gum and experience skin irritation or allergies. If you have sensitive skin or a history of allergic reactions to food additives, it is better to patch test the skincare products containing xanthan gum.

Is xanthan gum bad for your hair? 

Xanthan gum is commonly used in hair care products as a thickening agent and to create a gel-like texture. It is generally considered safe for use on the hair and scalp. However, people who are sensitive to it may experience scalp irritation or allergies when using such products.

Is xanthan gum keto-friendly?

Xanthan gum is considered keto-friendly. It is a carbohydrate, but the body does not absorb it or contribute to the net carb count. It’s often considered a “free” ingredient in keto cooking. As with any food additive, using xanthan gum in moderation is best.

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